An exchange rate can suffer rapid changes, sometimes several times a second, so there’s a lot of action going on 24 hours a day, 5 days a week. In general, the currency exchange rate reflects the health of an economy in comparison to others. If the economies of the Eurozone are doing better than the US economy, the euro will go up compared to the dollar (EUR/USD ↑) and vice-versa.
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The Forex (FOReign EXchange) market appeared at the end of the 1970s after many countries decided to unpeg their currency value from that of the US dollar or gold. This led to the formation of an international market on which currency could be exchanged and traded freely. Today, Forex is the largest financial market in the world. It doesn’t matter where you live or even where you are right now; as long as you have access to the Internet, a trading terminal (a special program for trading Forex), and an account with a Forex broker, all the instruments and opportunities of Forex are available to you.
Major Currency — currencies from the world’s most developed economies including Europe, Japan, Canada, and Australia — represent the most heavily traded and liquid currency markets for any forex trader. A major currency pair is created when one of these currencies is traded against the U.S. dollar. Examples include Euro vs. the U.S. Dollar (EUR/USD) and the U.S. Dollar vs. the Canadian Dollar (USD/CAD). Their availability on a forex brokerage is essential.
In the context of the foreign exchange market, traders liquidate their positions in various currencies to take up positions in safe-haven currencies, such as the US dollar. Sometimes, the choice of a safe haven currency is more of a choice based on prevailing sentiments rather than one of economic statistics. An example would be the financial crisis of 2008. The value of equities across the world fell while the US dollar strengthened (see Fig.1). This happened despite the strong focus of the crisis in the US.
Unlike stocks, forex trades have low, if any, commissions and fees. Even so, new forex traders are always advised to take a conservative approach and use orders, like stop-loss, to minimize losses. High leverage, which should be prudently applied, gives traders the opportunity to achieve dramatic results with far less capital than necessary for other markets. Forex trading requires training and strategy, but can be a profitable field for individuals looking for a lower risk endeavor. Learning currency trading gives traders a range of exciting new opportunities to invest in.
Just like stocks, you can trade currency based on what you think its value is (or where it's headed). But the big difference with forex is that you can trade up or down just as easily. If you think a currency will increase in value, you can buy it. If you think it will decrease, you can sell it. With a market this large, finding a buyer when you're selling and a seller when you're buying is much easier than in other markets. Maybe you hear on the news that China is devaluing its currency to draw more foreign business into its country. If you think that trend will continue, you could make a forex trade by selling the Chinese currency against another currency, say, the US dollar. The more the Chinese currency devalues against the US dollar, the higher your profits. If the Chinese currency increases in value while you have your sell position open, then your losses increase and you want to get out of the trade.
An interesting observation is that the Forex Market Hours of the Tokyo and London sessions overlap for approximately 1 hour (varies for other European countries). You can (and probably should!) use this fact to your advantage. This means that all the crosses of European currencies and the JPY will have the highest volatility at the start of the European session. So if you are trading the GBPJPY you can simply carry out a few powerful trades between 8am-9am GMT, and then you are free for the day!
The forex market is divided into tiers based on the amount of money being traded. The upper layer consists of major commercial banks and securities dealers, who account for 51 percent of all transactions in the market. Citigroup Inc. is the leading currency trader in the foreign exchange market, accounting for 12.9 percent of the overall market in 2016.
The spread for EUR/GBP rises to 0.8532-0.8533 and you decide to sell your euros back into pounds at the bid price of 0.8532. The €10,000 you previously bought is now therefore sold for £8532. Your profit on this transaction is £8532 minus the original cost of buying the euros (£8415) which is £117. Note that your profit is always determined in the second currency of the forex pair.
You may have noticed that the value of currencies goes up and down every day. What most people don't realize is that there is a foreign exchange market - or 'Forex' for short - where you can potentially profit from the movement of these currencies. The best known example is George Soros who made a billion dollars in a day by trading currencies. Be aware, however, that currency trading involves significant risk and individuals can lose a substantial part of their investment. As technologies have improved, the Forex market has become more accessible resulting in an unprecedented growth in online trading. One of the great things about trading currencies now is that you no longer have to be a big money manager to trade this market; traders and investors like you and I can trade this market.
Trading currencies is the act of making predictions based on minuscule variations in the global economy and buying and selling accordingly. The exchange rate between two currencies is the rate at which one currency will be exchanged for another. Forex traders use available data to analyze currencies and countries like you would companies, thereby using economic forecasts to gain an idea of the currency's true value.
The foreign exchange market is the "place" where currencies are traded. Currencies are important to most people around the world, whether they realize it or not, because currencies need to be exchanged in order to conduct foreign trade and business. If you are living in the U.S. and want to buy cheese from France, either you or the company that you buy the cheese from has to pay the French for the cheese in euros (EUR). This means that the U.S. importer would have to exchange the equivalent value of U.S. dollars (USD) into euros. The same goes for traveling. A French tourist in Egypt can't pay in euros to see the pyramids because it's not the locally accepted currency. As such, the tourist has to exchange the euros for the local currency, in this case the Egyptian pound, at the current exchange rate.